Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği

Great Mosque of Divriği

Turkey has 18 heritages on UNESCO’s world heritage list, and the first heritage that was joined into that list was Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği, which is located in Sivas. It is one of the most fascinating structures you can see architecturally, and its craftsmanship has been told as a legend over the years. 

Besides having a place in the UNESCO world heritage list, this structure is protected by the Republic of Turkey and the Presidency.

In addition to their architectural properties, the Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği has a historical value. It was made in the year 1243, in the Seljuks period by the House of Mengujek. Ahmet Şah, who made the mosque, and his wife Turan Melek, who made the mosque are both from the House of Mengujek. Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği also serves as a grave for those who made it possible to build it.

Visiting the Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği

It is currently closed to visitors due to the restoration work that started in 2017 and is still ongoing. The estimated date for the opening to visit again is 2023.

Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği in the map of Turkey

Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği is located in the city of Sivas in the central Anatolian region. 

If you will split from the middle of the map of Turkey, Sivas is located slightly to the right of the midpoint. Sivas takes a big space on the map of Turkey.

How to get to Divriği

You can get to Sivas by plane, by bus, or by train depending on your starting point. 

There is one airport in Sivas, called Sivas Nuri Demirdağ Airport. If you get Sivas by plane and you want to go to Divriği from there, you can rent a car. It will take approximately 3 hours to get to Divriği from the airport. Besides going to Sivas bus station and getting to Divriği from there, there are bus opportunities that go directly to Divriği from Istanbul and Ankara. Yet if you are in Sivas bus station, there are also minibusses available in Sivas for you to get to Divriği.

If you want to go there by train, you can take a train called “Dogu Express” or “Erzurum Express” from Ankara.

History of the Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği

Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği was made in the period of Anatolian Seljuks. Great Mosque was made after Ahmet Şah’s request, and the hospital was made after Turan Melek’s, who is Ahmet Şah’s wife, request. 

Gate of the Great Mosque of Divriği

The construction of the mosque and the hospital started in 1228 and ended in 1243. The architect of it was Ahlatlı Hürremşah, and his grave is buried there in the tomb of the Great Mosque with Ahmet Şah and Turan Melek. The plan of the mosque and the hospital is quite interesting, traces of both Seljuks and Umayyads can be observed. It has been said that the hospital was serving as a mental hospital, and it was believed that when the water sounds from the fountain combine with the acoustics of the building, it has a healing effect on the patients.

A mosque is called a “great mosque” when it is the biggest mosque that you can go to Friday prayer in that city. Even though, by time bigger mosques have opened to utilization, this mosque has remained as a “great mosque”. This is valid for all great mosques, they remain the same because at one point they were the biggest mosque in the city.

The architecture of the Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği

Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği attracts attention by their architecture. It has a magical architecture. 

Even though the external structure of the building seems quite simple, as you walk in, you will witness a different world. The interior part of the mosque consists of 25 separate sections. It has 4 doors, and the building represents baroque style architecture. Doors alone are another dimension, they are built 3D, they look symmetric even though they are asymmetrical. The most glamorous door among them is the one called “Heaven Gate”. All of the decorations on this door represents heaven except one. One of the decorations, which is on the underside of the door is shaped like a fire boiler and it represents hell. Yet it is known that at Seljuks period, fire boiler was representing abundance and richness.

Details of the gate of Great Mosque of Divriği

The decorations all over the building are under the influence of the Islamic period. The architectural detail of the mosque is that, as the afternoon sun hits a specific point of the mosque you can observe a silhouette of a man. In front of this silhouette, there is another shadow occurs in the following minutes in the shape of a rectangle. An interpretation is that the rectangular shadow is Quran, and as time passes and the shadows change places, that rectangular shadow turns into that man’s prayer rug.

Other places that you can visit in Sivas

Even though the Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği is a wonderful place in terms of both architecture and history, other places are worth seeing in Sivas. 

While you are in Sivas, you may want to evaluate your time there. There are different madrasas in Sivas such as Double Minaret Madrasa and Gök (means sky in Turkish) Madrasa. Double Minaret Madrasa is one of the most historically important madrasas in Turkey. Besides, there are natural beauties that you might want to enjoy the nature there. Additionally, there is a naturally formed waterfall that you can see in Sivas. Another natural beauty that you may want to see is Şuğul Valley, which you can sit in a café to have Turkish coffee or to eat dinner in a restaurant. In addition, there are many mansions, baths, and various museums open to visitors in Sivas.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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